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Suits were top secret for two years, developed with help from defense engineers

8:10 PM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - When U.S. Olympic speed skaters take to the ice starting Saturday, they'll be outfitted in competition suits that were top secret for two years. They designed with help from one of the world's largest military contractors and hailed as the fastest ever created.

The suits are called Mach 39 and are the result of collaboration by sports clothing company Under Armour and defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

"We felt like it was a match made in heaven," said Kevin Haley, Under Armour vice-president of innovation. "The skaters have never had this level of aerodynamics. I really think the skaters have never had this level of brain power."

In a sport where a fraction of a second can be worth gold, the hope is to give skaters a distinct edge on the ice. The suits are meant to be a second skin for athletes, reducing friction and drag. They're made of specially developed textiles, and during their two-year development, tested in wind tunnels for 300 hours.

"Every seam placed strategically to optimize aerodynamics," said Haley.

Haley said the suits will help shave time not only from every race, but every lap.

"I don't think people realized there was this much improvement available," he said.

The suits were also made specifically for Sochi.

"We designed it for that elevation and that density of air because, why not?" said Haley.

He said the cost is tough to estimate.

"It's priceless," he said. "I don't think you could put a price tag on what this would cost to build with the amount of time and man hours and the time in the tunnel and the custom-made mannequins."

We'll soon see if this combination of athletics and aerodynamics will pay off at the podium.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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